Feb. 16, 2017
Trump Changes the U.S. Message to the Palestinians – Jonathan S. Tobin (National Review)
In refusing to specifically endorse a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President Trump was endorsing the diplomatic principle that the U.S. cannot impose peace on terms that aren’t accepted by the parties, and we shouldn’t behave in a manner that encourages Palestinians’ ongoing refusal to make peace.
The Fatah Party that runs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank pays lip service at times to a two-state solution, but its ideology centers on denial and hope: Deny the right of the Jews to any part of the country, and hope for a state Arabs will dominate.
Both Hamas and Fatah glorify violence against Jews and honor terrorists. That’s why few Israelis believe a two-state solution is possible. Though it’s clear a majority of Israelis want a two-state solution, they understand that the Palestinians have yet to come to terms with Israel’s legitimacy, and they think more territorial withdrawals would endanger their security without bringing peace. The idea of possibly replicating a Hamas state in the West Bank strikes most Israelis as not only ill-advised but utterly insane.
For eight years, President Obama insisted that the Israelis give up the West Bank and part of Jerusalem in order to allow a Palestinian state. He didn’t take into account that Palestinian politics and the Hamas-Fatah rivalry made it impossible for them to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be located. Obama’s approach had the effect of rewarding Palestinian intransigence, which doomed his efforts.
Trump sent the opposite message to the Palestinians. His refusal to sanctify the two-state mantra is a warning that if Palestinians want a state, they will not get it by jettisoning negotiations and asking the UN to impose terms on Israel. Trump’s willingness to put pressure on the Palestinians – rather than pointlessly hammering the Israelis as Obama did – actually increases his chances of success, minimal though they may be.